Ironically, after watching Finding Forrester, I come across an article in the Oregonian about one of the best non-profits in Portland doing an amazing job with African American students who have traditionally been struggling to succeed in Oregon's schools.
Their passionate work has been causing dramatic results:
More than 95 percent of students enrolled in the SEI program earn high school diplomas. By contrast, only about 45 percent of African American students statewide graduate in four years.
This is incredible by itself, but what I find even more incredible is their approach. They do not take students completely out of their home high school and put them in an isolated bubble environment. Instead, they provide identified students with wraparound mentoring - they become part of the student's life where the student is at, AND they stick around with students for the long haul. They are committed to support the student until they are 25.
I am not surprised by their success, and I think many more groups who are trying to make positive changes for at-risk youth need to look to them as a good example of what is effective in making a difference in the lives of today's students.
The article by Betsy Hammond is definitely worth the read.